By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Jesus was illegally arrested by the officers of the Sanhedrin, and unjustly tried before the Roman governor, Pilate. After struggling to find another way to avoid the judicial process, Pilate caved. Pilate had already said that he had found no guilt in Jesus. Yet because of the cries of the crowd, and the threat that Pilate’s failure to act would be reported to Rome—Pilate reluctantly committed Jesus to execution by crucifixion. The soldiers that had stood by the cross reported to Pilate that Jesus was dead.
The body of Jesus was taken by Joseph of Arimathea along with Nicodemus, with Pilate’s permission. On Good Friday he was placed in a new tomb, and a stone was rolled in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James witnessed this event. A guard was set before the tomb to assure that no one would come and steal the body, and the stone was sealed.
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. An angel from the Lord told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead. On the morning of the Sabbath a group of women went to the tomb hoping to complete the burial process. They found the tomb empty. On that Sabbath following the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to a number of his disciples. The disciples went to Galilee to a mountain to which Jesus had directed them. They worshiped him, some initially doubted, but were convinced when they saw him in person.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the crown jewel of Christian witness and theology. The tomb was empty, Jesus could not be found, then he appeared to the women, to two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and in the evening to at least ten of his disciples.
“After his suffering [Jesus] presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
The disciples, and many others with them, were convinced that this Jesus who had been killed and confirmed dead had been raised from the dead. Had this not happened there would be no Christianity and no church. The disciples would have returned to Judaism and their former relationships. On the Mount of Olives, the disciples and a crowd witnessed his ascension to heaven. They began proclaiming the resurrection of Christ (at the risk of their lives) and the good news of the salvation that is found through him.
The resurrection confirms the Old Testament. It is the foundation of the New Testament and the Christian Church. It is certainly and undeniable historic fact! With that we may believe in him. With that we may faithfully follow him. With that we may be assured, that when we depart this life, we shall live with him forever.
For your reading this week include one or all of these passages: Matthew 27:1-28:19; Mark 15:1-16:18; Luke 23:1-24:52; John 18:28- 21:19.